Column: My car insurance plight and on hold music

Darren Hassett writing in this week's Kilkenny People...

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

darren.hassett@kilkennypeople.ie

Column: My car insurance plight and on hold music

"The old adage of shop around, I heeded that."

I’ve had the unfortunate prospect of my car insurance expiring on January 2 for the past few years. Given the current market, my age, my meagre three year no claims bonus, that’s a crippling time for any policy to expire.

So, I decided to do the smart thing this year and pay in installments. That’s still a hefty deposit of over €200 at a time when every euro counts in terms of making it to January’s payday.

My premiums for car insurance, and thousands more around the country, are absolutely soul destroying payments to have to make.

There are a plethora of things that just enrage me when it comes to paying them. First of all, I never do the sensible thing and actually click on the easy link to renew at the somewhat cheaper quote they’re offering with ten days’ notice.

I wait, given that I’m getting these emails over the Christmas, and I tell myself I’ll shop around. No way I’m paying that quote.

But I mean it’s Christmas time so naturally, I do nothing until the New Year. Then I shop around and the other companies are quoting me a premium, believe it or not, that’s higher than the premium my existing insurer quoted.

So, I click the easy link on January 3 to renew my policy but of course that has expired so now I must go through the sheer pain of calling the company. I’m not joking; I spent 57 minutes on the phone across four different calls trying to sort out my policy last week.

First, I sent off forms (Statement of No Claims and Proposal Form) in the post and in an email and all was good. Then they ring and say: “Mr Hassett, that’s great but just to take you through the policy, you won’t be covered during your commute to work.”

Sure, that’s the only time of the day I actually drive. So, I’d have to pay more, naturally, as that’s how these things work. At this stage, I just wanted to be covered.

I had to send (via email and post) two more forms due to my now updated policy. I had listened to so much on hold jingles throughout the day I was actually thinking about buying life insurance and commercial van insurance. I don’t even own a commercial van.

The frightening thing is, what I paid, I genuinely believe, is the cheapest I could have gotten and it’s still such a staggering expense.

The old adage of shop around, I heeded that. We have all spent twenty minutes here or there inputting all the relevant information for an online quote but then when you get it, you’re a little incredulous as to what they’re offering and you just feel that if you spoke to them, you’d get them to come down.

But then you’d have to listen to the on hold chimes that would pierce your ears and the probability would also be lingering over the entire call that you’ll get the same quote.

Car insurance costs are prohibitively high and I know one person - who for a period of time had her car sitting in the driveway at home because she couldn’t get an affordable car insurance quote.

Don’t get me wrong, car insurance is a necessary evil. There are severe punishments for driving uninsured and rightly so given that a minority of uninsured drivers are a contributory factor to high premiums.

The courts have sufficient deterrents written into legislation from fines, disqualification and even prison sentences.

That said, it’s still a huge financial burden on law abiding drivers each year, or month, depending on how you pay for your policy.

Prices are dropping but they have someway to go yet before the expectation of being quoted sky-high premiums dissipates - it’s unlikely it ever will.

But from a customer experience point of view, the least insurers or brokers could do is play some Oasis during that painful wait while on hold.